By Abdul Nishapuri
President Asif Ali Zardari and Opposition Leader Muhammad Nawaz Sharif are expected to meet in the next few days to announce a renewed commitment to democracy by signing the ‘Charter of Democracy Part II’.
It has been learnt by “Let Us Build Pakistan” that the Zardari-Nawaz meeting will be a major milestone in the history of democracy in the country. The meeting will bring a major disappointment to ‘the establishment’ and to the supporters of Taliban and haters of democracy in Pakistan.
The following are some key clauses of the expected joint statement:
1. Certain parts of the 17the amendment will be repealed including but not limited to the annulment of Article 58(2)b and the annulment of disqualification of a person to be elected as a Prime Minister for the third term. This will technically clear the way for Mr Nawaz Sharif in the 2012 elections.
2. Mr Sharif’s PML-N will agree to be a part of the federal cabinet. Mr Sharif will also guarantee in writing that the elected government will be allowed to complete its full constitutional term (5 years), and that there will be no demand for a mid-term elections, nor PML-N will become a part of a campaign to destabilize the democratic government.
3. Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan will replace Mr Salman Tasir as Governor of Punjab.
4. A “National Truth and Reconciliation Commission” will be established through an act of parliament. The Commission will comprise the following persons: Justice Rana Bhagwan Das, Asma Jahangir, Javed Hashmi, Raza Rabbani, and I.A. Rehman. The Commission will consider all allegations of corruption not only against politicians but also against military and civil bureaucrats in the country from 1977 onwards. The Commission will be given the constitutional authority by the parliament to make final decisions on all cases with a view to conduct across the board accountability as well as reach truth and reconciliation.
5. Defence budget will be regularly audited by the public accounts committee of the parliament.
6. PPP and PML-N will offer full political support to Pakistan Army in its operation against Taliban terrorists.
Here are some relevant news items, which point towards this development.
PPP wants PML-N in coalition for joining cabinet
By Zulqernain Tahir
Monday, 07 Dec, 2009
LAHORE: The PPP has linked repeal of the 17th Amendment to PML-N joining the federal cabinet for the remaining term of the government.
‘There will have to be some give and take. Who will guarantee that after the controversial amendment is done away with the PML-N will not destabilise the PPP government in order to pave way for the Sharifs’ a cabinet member said on Sunday.
‘In fact this is the deadlock between the PPP and PML-N over the issue,’ he told Dawn, adding that senior leaders of both parties were discussing the matter and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had given his consent in this regard. ‘However we have sought a firm assurance from the PML-N leadership that it will not back out of its commitment of joining the cabinet once we repeal the amendment,’ he said.
When it was pointed out that President Asif Ali Zardari had in the past backed out of commitments with the PML-N leadership, the cabinet member said: ‘This is true and that is why we are sceptical. Who will guarantee that Mian Sahib after becoming eligible to become prime minister for the third time after the repeal of the 17th Amendment will not destabilise the PPP government? As we know, commitments or promises are often not kept in the tug of war for power.’
He said the PPP high command is even ready to replace Punjab Governor Salman Taseer as wished by Mr Sharif. ‘But all this depends on how he responds to the offer.’
Earlier, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Babar Awan had asked the PML-N not to oppose the renaming of the NWFP to break the ‘deadlock’ and pave way for consensus on a constitutional package.
PML-N leader Khawaja Asif said his party would not accept any condition for the repeal of the amendment.
‘We will not accept any offer of becoming part of the federal government. Nawaz Sharif has not given consent in this regard.’
He said the PML-N might consider joining the government after the controversial amendments were repealed under the Charter of Democracy. He warned that if the PPP adopted delaying tactics the PML-N might withdraw the ‘concessions’ it had been giving to the government over the past one and a half years.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has announced that the 17th Amendment will be repealed soon, but sources claim that the process will take up to three months.
A 26-member special parliamentary committee on constitutional reforms has been meeting regularly to come up with recommendations by the end of the current month.
No threat to NRO beneficiaries in cabinet
By: Abrar Saeed | The Nation, Published: December 07, 2009
ISLAMABAD – Government has no intention to show door to any of the NRO beneficiary ministers in the Federal Cabinet, however, the portfolios of a number of ministers in the cabinet would likely be changed due to the planned merger of a number of ministries, sources close to the ruling coalition informed The Nation on Sunday.
Brushing aside the impression of any pressure on any of the NRO beneficiary ministers in the Federal Cabinet from Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani or any other top-notch in the government the sources further informed that showing door to any of the NRO beneficiaries would mean exerting pressure on President Asif Ali Zardari as he is also one of the main beneficiaries of the ordinance.
The sources in Pakistan People’s Party informed that the party could only deal with PPP ministers while the ministries doled out to coalition partners were not in its domain so the government would not take any decision in this regard as only the heads of the coalition partners were given the names of their members in the Federal Cabinet. The sources in the PPP said that other than merger the PPP could change the portfolios of some of its ministers on the ground of their unsatisfactory performance. The sources, however, added that in case of the merger of any of the ministries, presently with any of the coalition partners, the coalition partners would be duly accommodated.
Giving rationale behind the merger of some ministries which were earlier segregated to accommodate coalition partners would now be remerged owing to financial constraints and to satisfy the foreign donors who were not satisfied with the governance of the incumbent setup, sources further said.